The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are rested and eager to resume their season.
Coaches and players reconvened Monday following a bye week that provided extra time to evaluate the team's progress through four games, focus on fundamentals in practice and make some adjustments that Greg Schiano hopes will be beneficial the final 12 weeks of the season.
The Bucs (1-3) will try to snap a three-game losing streak when they host the struggling Kansas City Chiefs (1-4) next Sunday.
"We evaluated a lot of things, and if your evaluations are correct and your adjustments are correct, then it helped," Schiano said of the break.
Since shutting down Cam Newton and beating the Carolina Panthers in the season opener, Tampa Bay has dropped consecutive games to the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins by a combined 15 points.
Although the players didn't like the idea of having to wait two weeks for their next opportunity to end the skid, Schiano felt the open date fell at a good time.
The Bucs practiced last Tuesday and Wednesday before taking the remainder of the week off.
"Without a doubt ... it's good to get them some rest," Schiano said Monday, when the team got an early start on preparation for the Chiefs.
Players usually don't receive the game plan until Wednesday.
"The rest definitely helps," guard Carl Nicks said. "I'm a little recharged, a little refreshed."
The Bucs have played well at times, but also have been wildly inconsistent -- sputtering for long stretches on offense and struggling defensively to stop opponents in critical situations.
"We're not anywhere near our potential. We've got to finish better, start better and be more consistent," Nicks said. "Although we're 1-3, and that's not a good record to have, all of our games have been close and it's encouraging to know we can battle with any team in the NFL."
Schiano reiterated that while the team's record could be better, it also could be worse.
Asked if he's concerned that the unbeaten Atlanta Falcons (5-0) are beginning to build a commanding lead in the normally tight NFC South, the first-year coach stressed his focus is solely on the Bucs.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't rooting for Washington this weekend," Schiano said, alluding to Atlanta's latest win. "We can't handle what they do. We can only handle what we do. If we had done a little better job handling it, we wouldn't be talking about this. We can't do anything about the past, but we can do something about Sunday."
Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said there's a positive vibe in the locker room, despite the slide that's extended a stretch in which the Bucs have lost 13 of 14 dating to last season.
"You know what's great about this team is everybody's so encouraged. Nobody's down," McCoy said, adding that this is a time for players to critique themselves critically and do whatever's necessary to eliminate mistakes that are affecting the club's chances of winning.
"Nobody wants to be 1-3. Nobody wants to be 2-2. Nobody wants to be 3-1," the third-year pro said. "Everybody would like to be undefeated, but the reality is it's not going to happen."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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